Cutting funding to the UN agency for Palestine refugees (Unrwa) would be “both disproportionate and dangerous” and “could put hundreds of thousands of lives at risk”, Europe’s top diplomat said on Sunday.

“The agency took immediate action and began an investigation” after Israel accused its employees of involvement in the Oct. 7 attack, Josep Borrell said in a blog post.

“The allegations against Unrwa staff are serious and no one responsible should go unpunished. However, Unrwa’s response was immediate and the contracts of the staff members accused were terminated,” he added.

In response to the Israeli accusations, a dozen countries, including major donors such as the United States, Germany, Britain and Sweden, announced they were suspending their funding to the agency, which said it was at risk of halting its operations “by the end of February”.

The EU had requested an audit of the operation of Unrwa, clarifying that it would decide on the suspension of its funding based on the outcome of the investigation launched by the UN.

Borrell says he is “convinced that (the investigation) will be concluded with the launch of an independent external investigation before the next payment is made by the European Commission at the end of the month”.

“Unrwa is playing a major role in providing aid to more than 1.1 million people in Gaza who are suffering from devastating famine and epidemics,” Borrell stressed.

“Defunding the service would put hundreds of thousands of lives at risk,” he warned.

Today, the suspended funds amount to “more than $440 million, which is almost half of the service’s expected revenue in 2024, thus putting its very existence at risk,” Borrell stressed.